Women’s ski jumping’s first Olympic champion
Germany’s Carina Vogt wrote her name into the history books at Sochi 2014, becoming women’s ski jumping’s maiden Olympic champion. Despite admitting surprise at her achievement, she has since proved it was no fluke by winning back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2017, and will be strongly fancied to retain her Olympic title at PyeongChang 2018.
Learning her trade
Hailing from Schwäbisch Gmünd in Baden-Wurtemberg, Carina Vogt made her international ski jumping debut in an FIS event in Meinerzhagen (GER) in August 2004, when she was only 12. Two years later, she made her first appearance in the Continental Cup, the top ladies’ international competition prior to the introduction of the FIS World Cup, and finished a creditable fourth in the standings in 2007, fifth in 2010 and eighth at the FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in 2011.
In April 2011, the IOC Executive Board decided to add women’s ski jumping to the programme for Sochi 2014, and a year later the sport got another huge boost when the International Ski Federation launched the Ski Jumping World Cup, with both male and female athletes provided with a new platform. Vogt was a regular on the World Cup podium, racking up four second places and four thirds, but found victory elusive. In Sochi, that would change.
A historic victory
The inaugural Olympic women’s ski jumping competition took place on Rosa Khutor’s HS106 hill on 11 February 2014, and Vogt marked the occasion by flying out to 103m with her first jump to take the lead. Holding her nerve on her second, she jumped 97.5m for a combined total of 247.4 points, which proved just enough for her to win a wholly unexpected gold from Austrian veteran Daniela Iraschko-Stolz and France’s Coline Mattel, while pre-competition favourite Sara Takanashi came in fourth.
Lost for words
A tearful Vogt could barely contain herself when she looked up to see her name atop the leaderboard. “I’m lost for words,” she said at the time. “I wouldn’t have dreamt this was possible three years ago. It’s fantastic. I’ve never won a World Cup event and now I’m the first Olympic women’s ski jump champion. It’s incredible.”
Reflecting on her shock triumph the following day, she added: “I still haven’t quite come to terms with what happened to me yesterday. I stayed focused and made sure I didn’t get distracted. Getting both my jumps right is just crazy. I just can’t describe how I felt down at the bottom. It felt like hours before I finally saw that I was the No.1.”
Having etched her name in the history of the Games and her sport, Vogt, a policewoman by day, was intent on building on her stunning achievement.
World Cup wins
She followed up by landing her first World Cup win on the HS100 hill in Zaō (JAP) in January 2015, with a second coming her way just 12 days later in Hinzenbach (AUT). Yet while she has since failed to add to those two victories on the World Cup scene, her recent performances at FIS Nordic World Ski Championships have been nothing short of flawless.
Rising to the occasion
Vogt will head to PyeongChang 2018 a four-time world champion, with the first two of those crowns coming in Falun (SWE) in February 2015. The German began by taking gold in the individual normal hill, a medal that Iraschko-Stolz looked to have in her grasp when she scored 122.9 points with her opening leap of 92.5m, with Vogt over three points back, ahead of Japan’s Yuki Ito.
Showing steely resolve and great technique, the German jumper flew out to 92m on her second jump, giving her a total of 236.9 points, 1.8 ahead of Ito in second, with Iraschko-Stolz eventually finishing third. “After the first jump I didn’t really expect to win here,” said the new world champion. “It’s really incredible on top of everything else that has happened to me in the last year. I’m so happy.”
There was yet more joy for Vogt two days later when she joined forces with compatriots Richard Freitag, Katharina Althaus and Severin Freund to win the mixed normal hill title from Norway and Japan.
Two years later, Vogt defended her two world titles in style in front of thousands of fans in Lahti (FIN). She began the individual competition with a jump of 98.5m to lie third at the end of the first round behind Takanashi and Norway’s Maren Lundby. No one could better her second-round leap of 96.5m, however, as the German retained her title with a total of 254.6 points, leaving Ito in second and Takanashi third.
“It was a perfect competition for me,” said the two-time world champion. “I’ve saved my best jumps here for today. It is an overwhelming feeling. I have had two tough years. I don’t know my secret at those big occasions. I´m just trying to stay focused. It has been a good season for me so far. Now it is a perfect one.”
Forty-eight hours later, Vogt teamed up with Markus Eisenbichler, Svenja Wuerth and Andreas Wellinger in a revamped German quartet to win the mixed crown again, this time from Austria and Japan.
With PyeongChang 2018 fast approaching, Vogt has shown time and again that she has what it takes to win on the big stage, a happy knack she hopes will continue at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre.